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Print Edition> World
UPDATED: April 17, 2010 NO. 16 APRIL 22, 2010
A Conventional Agreement
Chinese President Hu Jintao calls on the world community to enhance nuclear security measures


ONE VOICE: Leaders pose at the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington, D.C. on April 13 (LI XUEREN) 

More effective multilateral measures to secure nuclear materials are needed to make the world a safer place, said Chinese President Hu Jintao at the first global summit on nuclear on April 13.

The appeal was made at the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington, D.C., addressing the mounting threat of nuclear terrorism. The gathering, attended by leaders and representatives of 47 countries, also enjoyed the participation of international organizations like the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) as well as the UN.

"Nuclear security," said Hu, "has a bearing on the sustainable development of nuclear energy and the economy, social stability and public security and international peace and stability." And "strengthening nuclear security," he said, "serves the interests of all countries and calls for our joint efforts."

To this end, Hu put forward a series of proposals—including honoring national commitments, strengthening international legal systems and enhancing cooperation.

Individual countries should improve upon existing internal laws and regulations, as well as supervision and management systems, he said, to fully secure nuclear materials and the facilities that produce them.

Hu also advocated an early enforcement by the international community of the Amendment to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material coupled with the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism.

In a communiqué released after the Washington summit, participants called the goals outlined in the two conventions "essential elements of the global nuclear security architecture."

Countries should share their experience in protecting nuclear security while augmenting information exchanges between each other for the sake of joint law enforcement measures, Hu said, while expressing support for the IAEA's leadership role.

Moreover, he added, there is a need to assist developing countries in furthering their nuclear security, as all nations must strike a balance between nuclear security and the peaceful uses for nuclear energy.

Hu also said, regarding China's positions on nuclear security, Beijing resolutely opposes nuclear proliferation and the spread of nuclear material to non-state actors in all their forms.

Meanwhile, China has honored its pledge not to be the first to use nuclear weapons at any time and in any circumstance and not to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapons states or nuclear-weapons-free zones.

China, Hu said, has maintained a steady record with respect to its own nuclear security via the implementation of legal and regulatory systems while maintaining the safety of its nuclear materials and facilities.

In addition to abiding by existing international conventions and UN Security Council resolutions, Beijing also provides other developing countries with nuclear safety assistance.

China is also among the founding partners of the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism. Launched in 2006 and comprising of 76 nations, the agreement aims to prevent terrorists from acquiring fissile materials and accessing nuclear stockpiles.

Apart from the joint communiqué, the two-day Nuclear Security Summit also issued a work plan detailing the measures the member nations shall take. The leaders also agreed to hold the next Nuclear Security Summit in South Korea in 2012.

Participants' Voices

United States

As the host of the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington, D.C., President Barack Obama called for the securing of all nuclear materials worldwide within four years to keep them out of the hands of terrorists.

"This is one part of a broader, comprehensive agenda that the United States is pursuing," said Obama, "including reducing our nuclear arsenal and stopping the spread of nuclear weapons—an agenda that will bring us closer to our ultimate goal of a world without nuclear weapons."


At the Nuclear Security Summit, President Dmitry Medvedev announced the imminent shutdown of Russia's last existing weapons-grade plutonium manufacturing facility. Later that day, he called the gathering "absolutely timely" and "crowned with complete success" at the Brookings Institution, a Washington-based think tank.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also signed a protocol that day updating the U.S.-Russian 2000 agreement on eliminating excess weapons-grade plutonium from defense programs. The agreement says Russia and the United States will dispose of 34 metric tons each of excess weapons-grade plutonium.

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